Our 25 year-old niece has been living with us since the first weekend in October. She wanted to move to our area, so we offered to let her stay with us while she looked first for a job and then for a place to live. She was diligent in her job search. We told her that it wasn’t necessary to take the first job offered; that she could stay here long enough to be able to find a job she really wanted. She began working the first week of December and then she began looking for a roommate. Again we told her to take her time to find just the right living situation. She did and she found a roommate with a cute little two bedroom house close to her job and church; it even has an outbuilding she can use as a painting studio. Yesterday she moved.
I’ve always felt a special tie with this niece and it has been wonderful to have her in our home, to have her participate in our crazy, busy life. She has joined the conversation around the dinner table, attended our children’s music and sporting events and added a sense of calm and sweetness to our days. When she announced a couple of weeks ago that she’d found a roommate and house, we were thrilled for her, but we were also sad to think of her leaving. It’s obviously the right next-step for her. Being on her own was the goal of her moving here in the first place. But I felt sad nonetheless.
Yesterday, on the ride to her new house with a truck full of her belongings, she asked me about our first place. I reminisced about the small upstairs apartment next to the train tracks; about how it didn’t have any laminate on the kitchen counters so we covered them with orange shelf paper with mushrooms on it. We lived in this apartment for the first ten months of our marriage and, when I think back on it, my overwhelming “feeling” about the apartment is that it was a place of discovery and compromise. There my husband and I learned that we had totally different biological rhythms: he liked to stay up late and sleep in, I was in bed by nine and up before dawn. We learned about each other in that apartment and began to figure out how to live together. Our niece moves into her new place with a roommate she’ll get to know, with the opportunity to turn work and church acquaintances into friendships and, I hope, with a dream of creating the adult life she wants to live.